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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 February 2008, 16:54 GMT
Rangers 2-0 Falkirk
Rangers' Kris Boyd and team-mates
Striker Boyd's goal against Falkirk was his 15th of the season
Rangers moved seven points clear at the top of the SPL with a win over a well-organised Falkirk team at Ibrox.

Early on, Rangers struggled to open up a solid Bairns side, who came close through a sweet Scott Arfield volley.

But Rangers striker Kris Boyd broke the deadlock with a 22-yard free-kick midway through the first half.

And as Falkirk pressed in the final stages, substitute Steven Naismith wrapped up the win with a calm finish, after robbing Darren Barr of the ball.

Falkirk boss John Hughes watched on from the stand while serving a touchline ban.

And the Bairns manager had clearly learned from his side's crushing 7-2 defeat the last time he took his team to Ibrox, when they were punished for a swashbuckling attacking approach.

However, the 4-1-4-1 formation employed on this visit was well-organised and packed the midfield.

The effect was to frustrate Rangers who, despite some neat passing moves, were unable to fashion many clear-cut chances for much of the early stages.

Jean-Claude Darcheville did whip the ball across the Falkirk goal on 14 minutes, but Gerard Aafjes was on hand to mop up with Kris Boyd lurking at the far post.

Instead it was the visitors who had the better efforts early in the game.

Scott Arfield, fresh from scoring for Scotland Under-21s in midweek, twice tried his luck from distance.

The first effort was scooped well over the bar from 12 yards, but with the second the midfielder showed excellent technique to chest the ball down before firing in a dipping volley that cleared Alan McGregor's top corner by inches.

Yet, it was Walter Smith's side that took the lead in the 23rd minute, and perhaps inevitably it was from a dead-ball situation, given the Bairns' success in stifling Rangers in open play.

Darcheville was fouled 22 yards from goal, and Kris Boyd, enjoying a rare start for the Light Blues, stepped up to drill the ball home low past Robert Olejnik.

The goal seemed to spur the home side on, and Darcheville took the ball for a run, rounding the Faikirk keeper Robert Olejnik, but the Austrian managed to get a finger-tip to the ball to touch it wide.

Bairns defender Tam Scobbie nearly pegged level when his flighted free-kick caught out the Rangers rear-guard before drifted just wide of McGregors goal.

But Falkirk had Olejnik to thank for going in at the break just the one goal down, when he saved a powerful Boyd volley from six yards.

Into the second half and Barry Ferguson just failed to finish off a wonderful flowing move involving Brahim Hemdani and Boyd, shooting wide from four yards.

Falkirk manager Hughes substituted defender Kenny Milne for Russell Latapy, in a more attacking move.

And with Scobbie afforded more license down the right, the Bairns bagan to creep back into the match.

But in the final quarter, Rangers were twice denied a second goal within the space of 60 seconds.

Substitute Steven Naismith put Ferguson through on goal, but Olenjnik was quick off his line to tip the Rangers captain's shot over.

Carlos Cuellar then watched a header cleared off the line by Russell Latapy.

With minutes to go Patrick Cregg passed up a rare Falkirk chance to grab a share of the points, blasting over from 12 yards after skipping past two Rangers players.

But with the Bairns pressing as the match came to a close, Rangers secured the points thanks to Steven Naismith robbing Darren Barr and sliding cooly past Olejnik.


Rangers: McGregor, Broadfoot, Cuellar, Weir, Whittaker, Ferguson, Hemdani, Burke, McCulloch, Boyd (Naismith 66), Darcheville (Novo 83).
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Davis, Dailly, Furman, Fleck.

Booked: Whittaker.

Goals: Boyd 23, Naismith 89.

Falkirk: Olejnik, Ross, Barr, Scobbie, Milne (Latapy 54), Cregg, Moutinho (Clarke 61), Aafjes, Finnigan, Arfield, Barrett.
Subs Not Used: Supple, Bradley, Mitchell, Stewert, Robertson.

Att: 48,590

Ref: B Winter.

SEE ALSO
Smith credits canny Bairns play
09 Feb 08 |  Rangers
Hughes says Bairns lacked belief
09 Feb 08 |  Falkirk


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